Plymouth City Airport closure 'long overdue'

Plymouth Airport departure lounge
Image caption The future of the airport site is being discussed between Sutton Harbour Group and the city council

A leading Plymouth academic says the closure of the city's airport is "long overdue".

The airport is to close in December, its owner Sutton Harbour Group announced in April, partly blaming competition from other airports.

It said the airport, which employs 56 people, was facing a £1m loss over the next year.

Professor Peter Gripaios, an economist at the University of Plymouth, said the airport should be redeveloped.

He said: "it is time to think about other uses. It would be a good idea to have an Ikea or John Lewis on the site."

He said that the airport had been on a downward decline since it lost flights to Heathrow 10 years ago.

"They were crucial for business," he said. "Gatwick has never really been a substitute for that."

Exeter poised

He said it was "too late" to stop the closure of the airport, which lost its link to Gatwick in January.

"It's time to move on," he said. "The catchment area is too small, the runway is too small and there's far too much competition from Exeter."

Exeter Airport is poised to take over passengers from Plymouth.

Managing director Jamie Christon said: "We will use the strapline 'Devon's Airport' in our marketing.

"We are quite close, we have a good dual carriageway link between the cities and we already work very closely with Plymouth Chamber of Commerce."

Sutton Harbour Group, which owns the Plymouth site leasehold, said it would be discussing the future of the site with freeholders Plymouth City Council.

Some of the land at the airport is already earmarked for housing, with a £38m project in the planning system for homes on what was the airport's disused second runway.

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